Conceived in Solitude

Singer-advocate Nellie McKay brings her solo show to WOW Hall

Nellie McKay is full of vegetarian anecdotes. The British-American singer-songwriter is doing interviews as she tours, and she’s driving old Route 66 in California when I speak to her.

One of the first things McKay mentions is all of the veggie burgers she’s consumed on the road. 

“We just had an ‘impossible burger,’ which apparently they have at Fatburgers here, which is so tasty!” McKay says. “They’re plant-based but they taste like, you know, the burger most of us grew up with.” 

McKay’s status as an advocate for animal rights and against the capitalist system is a major part of her personality. But she is also a musician whose latest album, Sister Orchid, is full of standards such as “In a Sentimental Mood” and “Everything Happens to Me.”

 It is a solo album – McKay plays all the instruments — and she will also be performing alone for her June 7 show at Eugene’s WOW Hall.

“It’s nice to do a solo tour,” McKay says. “Of course, you miss the fellas being on stage with you sometimes. But if anyone in the audience wants to jump on a shot glass, they’re more than welcome.” 

The liner notes for Sister Orchid state that the album was “conceived in solitude, executed in darkness. It comes from a place of quiet, a world of low lights and cool drinks, up against a hard wall.” 

This album is McKay’s seventh, and is among a vast array of other, acclaimed, work. She won a Theatre World Award for her role in the 2006 Broadway revival of The Threepenny Opera, and The New York Times named her musical biography of Billy Tipton one of the best concerts of 2014.

She has performed in Eugene before — most recently, last summer at The Shedd Institute. She spoke highly of Eugene, mentioning the “nice train station” as well as giving a shout-out to locally owned vegan restaurant Cornbread Cafe. 

“We hope to have a good time, and we’re going to get down and boogie,” McKay says. “We want everyone to have a good time.”

Nellie McKay performs 8 pm Thursday, June 7, at the WOW Hall, following a free 6 pm appearance at Skip’s Records & CD World. Tickets to the concert are $18 adv., $22 door; visit